Super lean startup

08/06/15 12:11:32PM
22 posts
I would love to compare notes with anyone who is starting up on a shoestring - specifically with a bean to bar company. Tips, ideas, strategies? I'm happy to share too.
updated by @eg: 08/06/15 12:12:09PM
Clay Gordon
08/11/15 10:10:04PM
1,680 posts

@eg -

Yeah. I can't recommend starting a business in chocolate that is not properly financed from the outset. You may wish to operate like a lean startup but if you don't have the capital to get the right space and the right equipment and finance bean (and other) inventory and have the resources to market your product properly ... wait until you do. It will increase your chances of being successful.

BTW, a back-of-the-envelope calculation says that you should be processing about 1MT of beans per month to be profitable, even as a small, lean startup. If you're planning on doing 300-500kg/mo then what you have is a nice hobby, not a real business.

My .03 (adjusted for inflation),
:: Clay

clay -
08/12/15 10:54:08AM
11 posts


I'm certainly no expert in this chocolate game, but I will tell you that it's going to cost a penny to start. I'm not sure how you qualify "lean," but expect to put down at least $10k to get your company rolling – and that's very minimal.

My advice is to DIY your winnower, cooling cabinet, and packaging but pretty much buy everything else. A big mistake we made is buying the cheapest items, one at a time over the course of a few months. Buy what you need from the start – the right bowls, sheet pans, steam pans, prep tables, heat guns, etc. You'll end up wasting time and money by cutting corners on stuff like this. It's probably a good idea to become a member at Costco and a local restaurant supply store to get supplies, equipment, and ingredient. 

Also try to think 6, 12, and 24 months down the line. Will you regret getting a 20lb melanger when you'll eventually need a 100lb one? It might be worth investing in the larger one. 

Lastly, don't be afraid to start selling immediately. You need revenue and you need cashflow. If your chocolate isn't gritty and it's in temper, find some friends and sell it to them. You'd also be surprised how many local grocers will carry your product without any questions asked!


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